Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura

| 16 Jan 2019
Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura

Yes, that really is a Lamborghini Miura P400 you see above – discovered in a French field along with 80 other classics in varying states of disrepair.

In what must be one of the most amazing hauls in years, the vehicles were extracted from undergrowth after their owner passed away and the authorities were called in to handle his estate.

Now they’re going to auction with French firm Adam Encheres – and that Miura is far from the only gem among them.

Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
The cars were scattered around in five locations

So what do we know about them? Well, they belonged to one Henry Ruggieri, a man who was described as a “compulsive buyer” – which you’ve probably already worked out by now.

Mr Ruggieri apparently never used most of the vehicles, instead leaving them scattered around five different locations; they were recovered from barns and fields, hidden under brambles and forgotten beneath rubbish.

To ensure they weren’t stolen, Ruggieri would remove a component from each, which is why they remained there when auctioneer Henri Adam from Adam Encheres was called in late 2018 to assess the machines and arrange the sale.

Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Auctioneer Henri Adam and team examined and extracted all of the vehicles

In addition to the cars – of which there are 81 in total – Adam also discovered a host of vintage parts and components, ranging from body shells to doors to engines.

With the help of expert Stephane Bonoron – who described the collection as “eclectic at best” – the auctioneer set about cataloguing each and every one of the cars and components, taking photos, making estimates and, ultimately, listing it all for sale online on the Interencheres website. 

Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
You don’t find many Lamborghini Miuras lying in a field

The Miura is clearly the standout here. Worth more than £700,000 in pristine condition, this one is anything but that – it’s suffering from some corrosion, non-standard wheel nuts and a broken crank handle, for starters. And a lot of grime.

However, as number 118 of just 275 built by the Italian marque, it’s still magnificent. It’s also still extremely valuable, and goes to auction with an estimate of €400-600,000.  

With 77,886km recorded on the clock, it’s clearly been enjoyed by someone in its time, but probably not Mr Ruggieri; sold new in Belgium, it was acquired by him in 1996 and was seemingly consigned to dusty storage like the rest of his machines.

Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
1953 Porsche 356 Pre-A has seen better days

The Miura isn’t the only Italian vehicle here: you’ll find everything from a compact 1969 Autobianchi Bianchina 110FB (€300-500) to an Alfa Romeo 90 (€500-800) and a pair of Lancia Flaminias (€1500-2000 each).

If you prefer German classics to the Italian variety, you might be interested in a 1953 Porsche 356 Pre-A. 

Admittedly, the one here is a well-rusted example that now carries the engine from a 1959 356B, but it’s a 356 all the same – and it’s being offered for just €10-15k.

Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Hotchkiss Grégoire JAG Prototype (top) is an interesting vehicle; SIMCA Coupé de Ville (left) and Rolland-Pilain B22

As you might expect, French cars feature heavily in the collection, and range from workaday models such as a Citroën 2CV (€200-300) to more exotic fare including a 1955 SIMCA Coupé de Ville (€3-5k), a 1924 Rolland-Pilain B22 (€12-15k) and a Hotchkiss Grégoire JAG Prototype.

The latter is particularly interesting: it was first registered in 1947, despite the fact that the French marque didn’t buy the rights to the saloon until 1948, and only launched it two years later. A study of the registration certificate reports that it is, apparently, a “prototype” – but any further significance is as clear as its windscreen. Which is essentially opaque.

Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Jaguar E-type 3.8 Flat Floor Coupé could be a steal at €40k

Another out-and-out classic hidden in Monsieur Ruggieri’s field is a Jaguar E-type 3.8 Flat Floor Coupé.

Today, this metallic-gold beauty could be worth more than £150k – which surely makes it a steal at €40k, even if the central console is missing and the dynamo is rusted up. Sold new in France in 1961 and acquired by Ruggieri in 1970, it has a recorded 58,631km. 

It’s not the only Big Cat in the collection: look closely and you’ll also find a 1995 XJ. First registered in 1970, it was seemingly used until 1995 and comes with a tempting €800 lower estimate.

Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Chevrolet Corvette C3 (top), Lincoln Continental (left) and Packard Clipper are all American classics

Of the American classics discovered in the field, a Chevrolet Corvette C3 in T Top guise stands out for €3-5k, while a Lincoln Continental MkIII could be had for an estimated €4-5k. One of the last vehicles acquired by Ruggieri, it was only bought in 2012 and looks to be in far better condition than many of the lots here.

There’s also a Lincoln Continental MkII for sale, plus an Oldsmobile Toronado, Packard Clipper, Oldsmobile F-85 Cutlass and a rather sorry-looking Ford Transit van.

Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
Incredible 81-car French barn-find includes a Miura
1919 Citroën 10 HP and 1977 VW Golf both found space in the collection

What really stands out about the collection is quite how diverse it is, with supercars such as the Miura sitting alongside far more prosaic models such as a Talbot Tagora and Renault 30, and near-100-year-old vehicles such as a Citroën 10hp next to a trio of VW Golfs from the 1970s and ’80s.

With far too many cars to list here, we’ve created a photo gallery with more detail about some of the highlights here

The sale opens on 20 January at an as-yet undisclosed location in France, and you can view the full catalogue here.


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